Tuesday, November 28, 2023

No 31  They Came Because They Cared

Now my days are swifter than a post:
they flee away, they see no good.
They are passed away as the swift ships:
as the eagle that hasteth to the prey
(Job 9:25,26).

The three fastest things in Job’s world were these:
            On land, it was the runner or courier of the king.
            On water, it was the swift ship.
            In the air, it was an eagle swooping down upon its prey.
The News from Uz
News of Job's calamities did not travel so fast. 
The news of Job's calamities would have spread with the speed of a speeding camel. The news would have come to them via the camel caravan―the manner by which news traveled in those days.[Horses were not used in desert lands. Insufficient water.] The camel, however, was the mode of travel by default as the camel could carry sufficient water inside themselves to trek the long distances. The caravan brought the news from Uz to Eliphaz in Teman, Bildad in Shuah, and Zophar in Naamah. These four localities are located somewhere in southern Arabia. It’s pointless to be dogmatic about their exact locations. Arabic legends say this. Arabic traditions say that. However, certainty eludes us. The story still comes through wherever the four city-towns were located. Spread them out in every direction, and for illustration's sake, let's say there was 100 miles between each.

  .                                                     Zophar
                                                       100 miles
                                     Bildad       Uz          Eliphaz
                                     Shuah                                  Teman 
                                  100 miles                               100 miles

Now when Job's three friends heard of all this evil that was come upon him, they came every one from his own place; Eliphaz the Temanite, and Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite: for they had made an appointment together to come to mourn with him and to comfort him (Job 2:11).
When the news reached the three friends, they had to make an appointment together to go visit Job. Fast as a camel walks the arrangements were made. I see the communication between them developing over many weeks. Not hours. Not days. Many weeks. Maybe months. Discussions would have been made progressively:
                                 First, it would have been――“Did you hear?”
                                 Second, would have been――“What should we do?”
                                 Third, would have been――“Let’s go!”  
No letters. No cell phones. No emails. Speeding camels. The appointment together was made. Here are additional assumptions we must make:
#1 The three men would have sufficient financial means to make the trip. Travel. Per Diem. Motels.
#2 The three men would have to make necessary arrangements for their absence from their homes and businesses. They would have had to make arrangements for their crops and fields and herds while they were gone. It may have been an inconvenience for them to drop everything and run.
#3 The length of time they would be gone is indeterminable. Not ascertained. Unknown.
First――“Did you hear?” Now when Job's three friends heard of all this evil that was come upon him.
Second――“What should we do?” they came every one from his own place for they had made an appointment together.
Third――“Let’s go!” to mourn with him and to comfort him.
I have deliberately set up the introduction of the three friends of Job for these reasons: 1) considerable sacrifice of time, expense and effort was made for their venture, 2) they cared. They obviously cared enough about their friend Job to bear the costs involved, to allot the time and to make the expenditure of their time. Friends do that for friends. That’s what makes friends friends.  Please remember from the outset, they do not make the trip to be mean to Job. They do not make the trip to harass and harangue Job. They make the trip out of the brotherly kindnesses of their three hearts. As friends they are acting in God’s stead. A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother (Prov 18:24). They were acting on Godly and Christian principle. There were good friends.  
Not One Iota of Difference
On the appointed day they ride their camels to Uz. On the ride and along the way they have plenty of time to think. They think about all the religion that is tied up in this case. We carry our theology with us wherever we go. There is not one iota of difference in their theology than what is inside Job's head as he was sitting on the ash pile at the city dump in Uz.
This is not a matter of them believing one thing and Job believing another. They all were Sabbath-keepers. They all obeyed the 10 Commandments. They all tithed on the increase of their income and equally gave handsome free-will offerings in gratitude to the Lord. They ate only the clean meats. They all accepted the writings of the Spirit of Prophecy. They all were awaiting the coming of the Messiah. All their kids went to boarding academy together, and all, incidentally, were Pathfinders.

They may have have articulated minor nuances in such topics as the nature of the gopher wood Noah used in the building of the ark. And the height of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil in Eden may have been a lively discussion. But the foundational tenets of their common faith was just that―common―commonly held by them unitedly.
What We Do Know about Them
These three wise men were the original three wise men from the East. They came to visit Job who is a type of Christ. Their story will be intimated in the story of the three who came from the east 4000 years or so later to see Jesus at His birth. Notice the account of the wise men given by Ellen G. White in The Desire of Ages, page 59, numbering added by this author:
The wise men from the East were philosophers. They belonged to a large and influential class that included men of noble birth, and comprised much of the wealth and learning of their nation. Among these were many who imposed on the credulity of the people. Others were upright men who studied the indications of Providence in nature, and who were honored for their integrity and wisdom. Of this character were the wise men who came to Jesus. The light of God is ever shining amid the darkness of heathenism. As these magi studied the starry heavens, and sought to fathom the mystery hidden in their bright paths, they beheld the glory of the Creator. Seeking clearer knowledge, they turned to the Hebrew Scriptures. In their own land were treasured prophetic writings that predicted the coming of a divine teacher. Balaam belonged to the magicians, though at one time a prophet of God; by the Holy Spirit he had foretold the prosperity of Israel and the appearing of the Messiah; and his prophecies had been handed down by tradition from century to century. But in the Old Testament the Saviour’s advent was more clearly revealed. The magi learned with joy that His coming was near, and that the whole world was to be filled with a knowledge of the glory of the Lord. The wise men had seen a mysterious light in the heavens upon that night when the glory of God flooded the hills of Bethlehem. As the light faded, a luminous star appeared, and lingered in the sky. It was not a fixed star nor a planet, and the phenomenon excited the keenest interest. That star was a distant company of shining angels, but of this the wise men were ignorant.Yet they were impressed that the star was of special import to them. They consulted priests and philosophers, and searched the scrolls of the ancient records. The prophecy of Balaam had declared, There shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a Scepter shall rise out of Israel (Num 24:17). Could this strange star have been sent as a harbinger of the Promised One? The magi had welcomed the light of heaven-sent truth; now it was shed upon them in brighter rays. Through dreams they were instructed to go in search of the newborn Prince. By faith these Gentiles go forth to find the promised Saviour.
What Else Can Be Said in Their Favor? 
A long visit had not been anticipated. In addition to the motels and restaurants along the way to Uz, there were the extra expenses once they got there―more motel bills and restaurants. They may have had to purchase extra clothes because the length of their stay was prolonged.
What Else Can Be Said in Their Favor?
Upon arrival they remained silent a whole week until Job had spoken first (custom of the day). Custom also indicates they may have fasted those same seven days. [I ask myself, How long would I fast for a friend?] 
What Else Can Be Said in Their Favor?
They stayed even in the face of personal danger to themselves. What if Job's condition was contagious? Was he contaminated? Could innocent bystanders get it (whatever it was he had)?
What Else Can Be Said in Their Favor?
Whatever they had to say―good or bad―they said it to his face (and not behind his back).
What Else Can Be Said in Their Favor?
They cried. 
A Whole New Episode
At this point in the story (the three friends) a whole new episode in Job's experience is about to unfold.
12 And when they lifted up their eyes afar off, and knew him not, they lifted up their voice, and wept; and they rent everyone his mantle, and sprinkled dust upon their heads toward heaven. 13 So they sat down with him upon the ground seven days and seven nights, and none spake a word unto him: for they saw that his grief was very great (Job 2:12,13).  
They were aghast! How horrible he looked! They make the necessary mental adjustments and continue with the purpose of their visit. 
Similarly, the wise wise men arriving in Bethlehem were aghast! How surprising He looked!
He was a baby. They were expecting a King. They make the necessary mental adjustments and continue with the purpose of their visit. 
Closing Thought
When called upon to comfort a friend, I want to be as true to the task as were the three friends of Job. Don't you? 

Please send questions or comments to Will Hardin at P O Box 24 Owenton KY 40359.


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